We’ve been here before, when a swath of color — a flawless blue sky, a ribbon-smooth sea — rides alongside an event of horror. Both in immediacy and memory, the high sapphire sky of September 11 marked and continue to mark me. The beauty was somehow inconceivable yet perfectly part of the reality of that day.
Today, August 15. The swift brutal fall of Afghanistan in high summer. On one screen, horror, on another a rare glittering day, transparent blue shimmer on a local bay. A flock of swans have gathered in the shallow waters near shore — young swans, cygnets or teenagers gliding in the waters as if poking around at the mall.
At a loss for characterizing the debacle of Afghanistan, I go personal, come across a photo I’d idly titled, “Headless Against Red.” Doesn’t it seem like us — at once elegant, posing in the suppleness of our draped clothing, yet not whole? Us the civilized, the severed, somehow standing though not in charge. We appear against carmine and scarlet, the pulse and passion of life so beyond our grasp. Red wounds with its beauty and wildness; we border it with an elegant stance, never containing it, but reverberating against its life. The bloodiness of severing might have a much more gruesome reality in Kandahar and Kabul. The photo probably caught my eye because my unconscious made the association. It takes a metaphor, with distance, to begin to process.